Cilic outlasts Rublev in five-set marathon, Ruud beats Rune to create Norwegian history
Marin Cilic and Casper Ruud advanced to the French Open semi-finals for the first time in their careers on Wednesday with two impressive performances that overwhelmed their opponents.
Cilic fired 33 aces and 88 winners against seventh-seeded Andrey Rublev in a 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (10/2) victory.
Eighth seed Ruud booked a clash against the 33-year-old Croatian when he became the first Norwegian to reach a Grand Slam semi-final with a 6-1, 4-6, 7-6 (7 /2), 6-3 win over Danish teenager Holger Rune.
Cilic, the 2014 US Open champion, needed four hours and 10 minutes to defeat Rublev who has now lost all five of his Grand Slam quarter-finals.
Cilic, seeded 20, becomes only the fifth active male player after Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray to advance to the semi-finals of all four major tournaments.
“The fifth set was an incredible battle,” said Cilic, who is in her first Grand Slam semi-final in four years.
“Andrey played so well. Today was my day. He just wasn’t lucky.
Rublev grabbed the opening set but withered under a Cilic barrage over the next two.
The Croatian had knocked out world number two Daniil Medvedev in the fourth round and he rediscovered that freestyle assault to level the contest with a 17th ace on a fifth set point.
He pocketed the third with just one break in the seventh game.
Rublev, who lost to Cilic at the Australian Open in January, fought back with a crucial break in game eight of the fourth set.
Cilic, the 2017 Wimbledon and 2018 Australian Open runner-up behind Federer, saved a match point in the decider’s ninth game but swept the super tiebreaker.
– ‘Very well served’ –
“He was serving very well,” Rublev said.
“I relaxed after the first set, but then I didn’t think.
“I couldn’t handle the emotions in the previous quarter-finals. Today I was close to the semi-final.
Rune, ranked 40, had knocked out fourth seed and 2021 runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas in the fourth round.
The 19-year-old was aiming to become the first Dane to reach the last four in Paris and the first at any Grand Slam since Jan Leschly at the 1967 US Championships.
However, Ruud overpowered the youngster, shooting 13 aces and 55 winners while Rune had to fight off 12 of the Norwegian’s 17 break points.
“I started the game well, but Holger raised his game, he came back and it was tough until the end,” Ruud said after beating the Dane for the fourth time in four games.
“I had met him three times and he is improving. He has become unpredictable, he is not afraid of anything and will be dangerous for the next few years, ”added Ruud, who had never passed the round of 16 of a Grand Slam before this Roland-Garros.
Friday’s other semi-final will see 13-time champion Rafael Nadal take on Alexander Zverev following his epic quarter-final win over Novak Djokovic.
Casper Ruud (NOR x8) v Holger Rune (DEN) 6-1, 4-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-3
Marin Cilic (CRO x20) vs Andrey Rublev (x7) 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (10/2)
Iga Swiatek (POL x1) v Jessica Pegula (USA x11) 6-3, 6-2
Daria Kastakina (x20) against Veronika Kudermetova (x29) 6-4, 7-6 (7/5)
Line-ups for the semi-finals:
Rafael Nadal (ESP x5) against Alexander Zverev (GER x3)
Casper Ruud (NOR x8) against Marin Cilic (CRO x20)
Iga Swiatek (POL x1) against Daria Kasatkina (x20)
Martina Trevisan (ITA) vs Coco Gauff (USA x18)